Karsten has written 84 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • The Last Duel

    The Last Duel

    ★★★

    The Rashomon-esque structure feels ultimately pointless given how little either of the first two accounts presented actually work to recontextualize the events or provide further insight into the characters. Only in the final chapter do we really see this shift occur, and at that point, the film actually becomes compelling, and the themes become a lot clearer. It's unfortunate, though, that we have to wait through an hour and a half of nothing to get there in the first place.

  • Nightmare Alley

    Nightmare Alley

    ★★★

    It's possible that had I watched this before seeing Guillermo Del Toro's recent adaptation I might've gotten a bit more out of it than I did. Still, I can appreciate it if only for how unique it feels in comparison to many of the noirs of its time.

  • Belfast

    Belfast

    ★★★

    I see this becoming a big awards contender in the coming months, and its likely going to stir up a lot of fuss with people, especially on Film Twitter. And while I get that this sort of sentimentalism isn't everyone's cup of tea (it usually isn't mine either), it's just sincere enough and charming enough that I ultimately find it endearing. Obviously, its far from the best thing I've seen this year, but it's a sweet little romp and it works well for what it is.

  • House of Gucci

    House of Gucci

    ★★★

    Largely entertaining, if not a bit uneven, and the performances are all-around commendable, with the exception of Jared Leto's, which is cartoonishly over-the-top and sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the cast.

  • Last Night in Soho

    Last Night in Soho

    ★★★

    I feel very conflicted on this one. From a purely technical standpoint, Last Night in Soho is absolutely remarkable— from its impeccable pacing, to its inventive visuals, to its dynamic editing and camerawork— I expect nothing less from an Edgar Wright movie. The performances in general are also quite solid, the standouts, of course, being Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. But for all that's admirable about it, the film ultimately falters due to a lackluster script comprised largely of surface…

  • RiP!: A Remix Manifesto

    RiP!: A Remix Manifesto

    ★★★

    [Watched for a school assignment]

    Overall, pretty well put together, especially in terms of its editing, and it makes a really solid case for its thesis, but considering how much both the internet and our media landscape have evolved (for better and for worse) since this films release, a lot of it comes off as quite dated.

  • Halloween II

    Halloween II

    ★★★

    Despite essentially being an expansion of the 1978 film, picking up literally right where it left off, Halloween II frankly doesn't add a whole lot to original story, and by and large is a step down from the first film. The creeping tension and mysterious atmosphere that made the original so compelling are largely absent this time around, and while the film itself can be entertaining in parts, the plot is far too aimless for me to get as gripped and as invested in it, especially seeing how little focus is given to our protagonist at all.

  • The Hitch-Hiker

    The Hitch-Hiker

    ★★★

    A well-performed and tightly constructed psychological thriller that while featuring some truly tense and impeccably orchestrated scenes (courtesy of director Ida Lupino), fails to maintain its gripping quality, especially towards the climax, which plays out rather unremarkably.

  • Viy

    Viy

    ★★★

    Features some truly captivating set designs and makes use of some very effective camerawork in its most heightened moments. The special effects, while occasionally bordering on cheesy, are charming enough that its not completely distracting and even somewhat add to the overall uncanniness of the film. However, for as intriguing as it can be, especially in its most macabre scenes, I'm not all that compelled by the story as a whole, and it does drag quite a bit even with its incredibly lean runtime.

  • The Mummy

    The Mummy

    ★★★

    Karloff's performance is definitely a highlight, and it makes the film a bit more memorable than it would've otherwise been. I also find some of the execution in both the opening and flashback sequences to be pretty impressive. Overall, it's serviceable, but not particularly remarkable either.

  • Dracula

    Dracula

    ★★★

    I wouldn't exactly say this has aged the best, as it feels taxingly slow at times, and some of the acting and dialogue strike me as a bit cheesy. That said, there is still quite a bit of enjoyment to be derived from it, mainly in Lugosi's iconic performance as the titular character, but also in the eerie and almost dreamlike atmosphere conveyed through the cinematography and set designs.

  • No. 7 Cherry Lane

    No. 7 Cherry Lane

    ★★★

    I'm kind of on-the-fence with this one. On one hand, I really admire it's ambition and artful presentation, as well as its serene and wistful atmosphere reminiscent of a Wong Kar-wai film (In the Mood for Love especially came to mind). On the other hand, I'm not so much a fan of the animation, which alters quite frequently, but never to anything I find appealing, and my interest in the story itself sort of comes and goes throughout, save for…